Today’s film preview was going to be easy enough to put together. Jumping off last week’s holiday horror story from my colleague Aimee Murillo, who gave you the scoop on Slay Belles and All the Creatures Were Stirring, I would fill you in on Elves and Christmas Blood, which are also new on video-on-demand.
Heck, I might have even thrown in that now streaming on Hulu is the latest Into the Dark episode, “Pooka,” which is about a struggling actor taking a holiday-season job as the mascot for a popular toy, only to develop two personalities: one inside the costume and another outside of it.
Don’t worry, I would have kept it tight enough to plug Fangoria’s Holiday Horror Triple Feature at the Frida Cinema in downtown Santa Ana on Sunday night. You know, the one for which writer/director Sam Wineman (The Quiet Room) presents two mystery holiday-tinged horror films followed by audience Q&As with the first’s director and the second’s lead actor. Then comes American Genre Film Archives’ (AGFA) new restoration of René Manzor’s 1989 French horror thriller Dial Code Santa Claus (a.k.a. Père Noël and Game Over). Forgive me if I would have failed to note that doors open at 7 p.m. and it’s only $15 for all three flicks and the surprises.
However, a funny thing happened on the way to the iMac keyboard. Along with the press-screener link for Christmas Blood, the Artsploitation Films publicist tossed another in for Snowflake, which is known in its native Germany as Schneeflöckchen. Despite the name, Snowflake has nothing to do with the winter-holiday season and everything to do with its billing as a “fucked-up German fairy tale.”
That it is—so much so that I ditched my original (and more timely) holiday horror plans because I’m giddy with anticipation to tell you about the kraut-made joint. I’m like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting for “Santa” to stop cursing about my bike parts not fitting together so I can go downstairs and ride the damn thing. Just look up the aforementioned holiday horror movies, as that’s why God invented Google.
Snowflake, whose dialogue is mostly spoken in German, although there is a little Polish and a lot more English, has been compared to classic Tarantino, and the opening scene with two buddies bickering in a kebab shop does somewhat bring to mind the opening of Reservoir Dogs and Jules and Vincent discussing the Royale With Cheese in Pulp Fiction. Snowflake co-directors Adolfo J. Kolmerer and William James also share Q’s penchant for cartoonish ultra-violence, right down to the buckets of what’s obviously not blood.
Tan (Erkan Acar) and Javid (Reza Brojerdi) are the lifelong pals whom we soon learn did a lot more than arguing in the eatery. Armed with handguns and a chainsaw, they are on a quest to terminate Winter (Gedeon Burkhard), the leader of an underground fascist organization that wiped out the pair’s families.
But Tan and Javid are unwittingly responsible for the slaughter of an older couple in the kebab shop. Their grown daughter Eliana (Xenia Assenza), who was in the loo, vows to terminate Tan and Javid. Since she does not possess their special skills, she enlists the help of higher powers.
Sounds Tarantino-esque enough so far, but the story quickly veers into sci-fi worthy of The Twilight Zone. See, I should have mentioned that this takes place in a near-future Berlin after an economical and societal collapse has anarchy ruling the streets. That’s not the fantastical part; it actually seems more plausible with each passing day lately (talk about horror stories).
No, where the plot gets way out there is with the discovery that there is literally a screenplay within the movie’s actual screenplay that is writing itself as the action unfolds. The title of both is Snowflake, which is the name of Tan and Javid’s soon-to-be blood-covered guardian angel (Angela Hobrig). Also popping in are God (David Gant), God’s son (David Masterson), an electrified superhero (Mathis Landwehr), a blind contract killer (Eskindir Tesfay) and a robot (Martin Goeres) who hates being called a robot.
Oops, almost forgot: The Snowflake screenplay within the Snowflake movie was written by a dentist (Alexander Schubert). Now spit.
To be honest, I was queasy about providing that much detail, but it really should not spoil anything because Snowflake is such an original, humorous, compelling, expertly cut and visually addictive—yes—fucked-up German fairy tale.
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You know how we love the Frida Cinema here at the Weekly (see every Best of [insert year] issue we’ve done since the moviehouse opened on Fourth Street). It turns out Logan Crow and his crew also have admirers at the nonprofit (and aforementioned) AGFA, which would like to send the Santa Anans to next year’s Art House Convergence, which brings together exhibitors, festivals and allied organizations to discuss indie films and ways to keep showing them on big screens.
To that end, AGFA hosts a fundraising double-feature screening at the Frida on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Showing are Giulio Paradisi’s psychedelic and psychotic 1979 sci-fi/horror epic The Visitor, which is about God and the Devil fighting over a young girl with telekinetic powers, and Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s 1975 karate-horror mashup Wolf Guy, in which an ancient werewolf clan’s only survivor (Sonny Chiba) clashes with dark forces that want to harvest his blood and steal his supernatural, crime-solving powers. (Visit thefridacinema.org for more details.) A measly $10 ticket never went to a better cause.
And a Fröhliche Weihnachten every one.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.